3-3 C3: Dear Diary, Today We Planned Ahead
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Not really sure about this but I got a few PMs and one Profile Post congratulating me on hitting #1 Trending. For me though, and also in an incognito browser, Tricked was at #4. Trending remains a mystery once again. Still, thank you to everyone who has been reading, as well as those of you who left a rating/review after last chapter.

So in other news, I probably have Covid. I've got a fever of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit, Migraine, joint pain, and nausea. So far, I can still taste and smell things, but its a bit "off" if that makes sense, like, I'm picking up flavors I hadn't noticed before. Either way, getting tested tomorrow. I have four chapters pre-written, and even if I do have the coof I still plan on trying to write as much as I can.

I'll put out an announcement letting you all know if I end up having to skip a chapter, so it won't just "not show up".

1-3 has been touched up. No major changes, just some grammar stuff I didn't know about back then.

“Hay Pro-fess-or C. How is it go-ing?” The voice was lilting, much higher-pitched than I remembered, but there was no mistaking the nickname. Only one self-absorbed student had ever dared call me that.

That’s a bit of a risk on his part… I would have thought George would be more careful than to just reveal himself like that… Herself? Haaah… I wish I could speak with them directly… Maybe I could? But that would require me to take control of Felicity’s body… I’ll save that for a last resort. For now,

{Felicity, can you please tell Stahlia Nee-San, ‘Claire says ‘I see you’ve gotten shorter’’?}

Felicity cleared her throat, and then stammered, “S-stahlia Nee-San, C-claire Nee-San say’s y-you’ve gotten sho-shorter.”

Stahlia gave Felicity a long look, then looked back past her, or rather through her. Opening her mouth, Stahlia prompted me for some sort of evidence other than my name, “Well, If you are the Claire I know, then what was the last thing I said to you over there?”

He… She… damn this is confusing. And poor Felicity is terrified. Damnit George what are you doing this to her for!? Of course, I knew that it was my fault. I should have warned Felicity not to tell Stahlia about me the way she did. Especially not right after she got back from a, presumably, long trip. I’m sure EvilGod would have given me a day or two to work. Thinking back, I came up with the answer to George-cum-Stahlia’s question, and fed it to Felicity.

“S-Stahlia Nee-Sa-San, C-Claire Nee-San Say’s you a-asked her a-bout a su-surve-y

Stahlia stood still for a moment, before visibly relaxing. She reached out and rubbed Pet’s head, “I apologize for scaring you like that, Pet.” I did my best to tune out the sensation of head pats I was experiencing for the first time; it felt a lot better than I had imagined and had the effect of immediately calming Felicity down. She actually started purring… Or maybe “we started purring would be better”? I really can’t think of the best way to refer to us… Also, what the hell George!? You don’t sound sorry at all!

Indeed, it was as if Stahlia hadn’t been apologetic in the least; though she had spoken the words, her tone was bland and entirely devoid of emotion. I’ll have to have words with you… although lecturing through Felicity as an intermediary might not work out very well.

“Who’s Professor C.?” Stahlia’s hand stopped moving as she looked down at Felicity. Wait, George said that in English though? Why was Felicity able to figure out what it means in this world’s language…? And for that matter, why am I able to communicate with Felicity? Indeed, it had only just occurred to me, but this whole time, I had been speaking to Felicity in English myself, while she had been speaking whatever this world’s language was. And yet, we both had no issues understanding each other.

The only thing I could think of, is that our souls sharing a body is causing them to sort of “share” the intention behind the words? So since we are directly connected, it means that we are able to impart the “meaning” behind what we are saying to each other, independent of the words themselves. And I can understand what George is saying, even when they are speaking this world’s language, that means that I must be getting it translated from Felicity’s understanding of the words.

I could only guess that George had arrived at a similar conclusion because after a moment they gave Felicity an order, “Pet, do not tell anyone else about Claire and do not share anything about what we discuss with anyone, except Claire, unless I give permission.”

I felt a strange tightening being transmitted from Felicity’s senses as if her entire body was being squeezed. So that was a slave contact order. George is really taking things seriously, aren’t they? Still, despite it being moderately uncomfortable, it didn’t seem like Felicity really minded all that much.

{Felicity, can you ask Stahlia Nee-San what exactly happened?}

Felicity nodded, which caused Stahlia to raise an eyebrow since, from her perspective, Felicity had simply spontaneously bobbed her head, “Stahlia Nee-San, Claire wants to know what happened exactly?” Well, that confirms that the language is being translated as meaning and intent since she was able to rephrase my question but keep the same meaning.

Stahlia nodded and started talking quickly while keeping one eye on Jacqueline. It would seem that Jacqueline is not trusted completely.

“Well, after I left university that day, on my way home I either tripped or was pushed out in front of a subway. When I woke up, I was an infant by the name of “Stahlia”. The character I had made for that Beta I mentioned to you, although it took me a few months to realize that…”

{Wait, you were an infant?}

Felicity relayed my question, which caused Stahlia to pause, before nodding, “Yea, I was an infant. I’m ten now, soon to be eleven.”

So… that means time is moving faster in this world compared to Earth. Since from my perspective George died only about a week ago. I used Felicity as a relay to express this, though it seemed she had stopped following the conversation at all and was merely repeating words. That’s honestly probably for the best.

What followed was a nearly three-hour-long discussion in which George, in which I was filled out on what had been going on in their life since reincarnating. Frankly, it seemed like they had been reborn under a cursed star. By the time they had finished recounting what they had been through, the sun was setting. Stahlia suggested we retire for the night and resume in the morning, however, there was one major question that I still wanted to get answered before that though.

{One more thing, how did you know it was me? Felicity only mentioned my name, but you took that and jumped straight to assuming I was your teacher.}

Felicity regurgitated my final question, though at this point I was receiving feelings of extreme boredom along our connection. I’ll need to tell her a really good story…

Stahlia nodded, “Right, you probably would find that odd. I guess the easiest way to explain it would be to say that I ‘saw’ you. I got an ability a few days ago that lets me see mana. When I examined Pet after she said your name, I saw that she has two different mana sources layered over each other. So I took a bit of a chance. Luckily it paid off.”

That makes sense… It’s a bit of a risk, but I suppose he assumed that in the worst-case scenario, he could always order Felicity, though that sounds a bit cold-hearted… I wish I knew what I should call them. It was not lost on me that I had been sort of alternating between George and Stahlia, he and she. However, it appeared like they were getting ready for bed now. I’ll ask that in the morning.

Felicity marched our body over to the bed and climbed in next to Stahlia, an action that caused me to balk a bit. Don’t tell me George is letting her sleep with him? She’s five! As if he had heard me, I heard George speak up, “Claire, you should know a bit about what Pet has been through. Just let her have this; I’m not doing it for the reason you’re imagining.” That’s true, and you’re technically ten yourself… it’s only a bit creepy since I know you’re older inside.

Then again, from what I was getting over my connection to Felicity, it seemed that this was something Felicity considered “her right”. Considering the girl was a literal slave, it was a curious mentality for her to have developed. Then again, if the descriptions I was given earlier were anything to go by, Felicity looks up to Stahlia as not just an older sister, but a literal savior figure… which makes sense I guess. I would just have to get over myself if I was going to last in this world; it was a fantasy world, things were different here. In that way, it seemed like George had actually been fairly successful in adapting.

{Felicity, do you still want a story? Or do you want to wait until tomorrow?} Felicity was radiating out an aura of exhaustion. Considering the high-level conversation that she had just been forced to take part in, some exhaustion seemed more than fair. Her ears perked up at the mention of a story however, after a moment, she languidly shook her head and buried her face into the pillow.

Right, I’ll have to think of a really good story to tell her… Of course, I was far from a creative person. Any stories I might tell would be pulled directly from Manga or Anime. That being said, I would need to make sure to pick one that she would be able to understand enough to get invested in. Certain films came to mind, such as that one about being spirited off to another world in an amusement park.

Or maybe the one about a fish that wanted to be human. No, anything from that studio relies too heavily on visuals, I wouldn’t be able to do a verbal retelling justice… then again, I could possibly show her my memories of the movies… I decided to do a quick experiment. I called up my memories of the fish movie, the other one might have come across as a nightmare, and pushed them towards Felicity, who had fallen asleep at some point.

Much to my satisfaction, I noted that there was an almost immediate change in Felicity’s emotions, I could also feel our eyes flitting back and forth under their lids. Being able to feel Rapid Eye Movement was, to say the least, a bit uncomfortable. Still, this proved I could directly share my memories with Felicity, at least as dreams. I’ll have to try a few more. I remember this movie almost perfectly, but there are others where I don’t have all the details still. Also, will she remember this when she wakes up? Or will it be like a normal dream and mostly or entirely forgotten? I could only answer that last question by actually asking her in the morning, so I put it to bed for now.

A few hours had passed, Felicity’s movie dream had since ended and she was now in a dreamless deep sleep. At least, our eyes had stopped flicking back and forth under their lids. This is really boring. I had tried sleeping myself, but it seemed I was unable to do so. Something about being a soul without a brain seemed to preclude the need to sleep for me. If this is how it’s going to be, I would honestly rather have my dark space back. At least in there, time moved faster.

And now our nose was itching. Incidentally, I had opted to refer to Felicity’s body as “ours” under the assumption that if anything happened to it, I would suffer the consequences as well. Not that I intended to let anything happen to it in the first place, but hopefully by thinking of it like that, I could avoid becoming careless. Who would have thought that your nose can still itch even while you’re asleep… In a perfect world, Felicity would unconsciously scratch at the offending body part, however, it seemed she did not notice at all.

Damnit. This is getting really irritating. Just fucking scratch it! As if at my bidding, our arm moved up and scratched the nose, bringing sweet, blissful relief. Right, so that was fucking weird. I hadn’t felt any intentions from Felicity to move. Normally, when she was about to move, I would get a brief flash of the intent right before it happened. This time I got nothing, it was… no. That’s exactly what had happened. Did I move the arm?

Experimentally, I tried sitting up. Slowly, our body moved according to what I was wanting it to do. So if Felicity isn’t controlling the body, I’m able to? I quickly laid us back down and replaced the bedding to how it had been before I moved us. No way am I doing anything with this. Not unless I get her permission first. The whole idea of being trapped in one’s own body, but not able to move it, only able to watch. It was unsettling. I would know, given that that was my life now. Though it wasn’t my body I was trapped in, it was originally Felicity’s, and she hadn’t asked for any of this.

I mean, I hadn’t asked for any of it either, but I was the adult in this situation. Still, the fact that I can control our body, if I need to, will be useful to know I’m sure. I wonder if the body will still rest? Like, would Felicity wake up super tired if I were to use our body all night? It was something that could easily be tested, but as stated previously, I was not going to do very much with this new discovery until I had her permission. I’m sure she would give her permission readily enough, from what I had seen so far. But in this case, I wanted to make sure she totally understood what she was agreeing to.

I passed the night idly from there on, running back over the plots of various Anime and Manga to pass the time. Finally, the sun began to peek over the horizon, and Jacqueline came into the room to wake up Stahlia. Once they were up and dressed, Stahlia asked Jacqueline if there had been a summons for them yet. Presumably, this had something to do with the “disaster” that they had mentioned had recently occurred. I had asked for more details. However, George had refused to exposit on whatever had happened on their school trip.

Considering their attitude, and the fact that Felicity had been very surprised about Jacqueline’s missing arm, I could only assume that it must have been something incredibly bad. I also got the impression that they weren’t doing it spare Felicity… I think they might have been trying to avoid telling me what happened.

In any case, according to Jacqueline’s report, no summons had arrived yet, but we could probably expect one in a few hours. Stahlia nodded, and had Jacqueline silence the room again, then, once confirming that the maid had left earshot, Stahlia turned to Felicity. “Your turn, Claire. How did you wind up here?” I could feel an extremely disgruntled reaction from Felicity, who had woken up while Jacqueline was dressing Stahlia. Which was honestly a sight to behold, I never would have thought someone would be so skilled with just one arm.

Felicity’s reaction was understandable, given that for Stahlia to be questioning me, Felicity had to serve as an intermediary. I bit my metaphorical lip, I had just said I didn’t want to do this.

{Felicity, can I try and speak? If you give me permission, I think I can control our mouth. I can show you another memory, like the one you dreamed about. That way you won’t be bored.}

It was a bit of a gamble since I didn’t actually know if she had remembered the dream. But even if she didn’t, chances were she would be at least intrigued by my proposition. Apparently, she did remember, as Felicity’s next action was to excitedly nod her consent and promptly climb back into the bed. I guess she latched onto the word “dream”. This whole affair caused George to raise an eyebrow questioningly.

Once Felicity had secured us into the bed, I called up memories of another movie by that same studio, this one about a giant cat spirit who helps a little girl through a difficult emotional time. Felicity became engrossed in the memory, and her consciousness faded away somewhat. This left the body free for me to control. I swore to myself I would only use this to speak with George.

“Right, I suppose you would want to know about that. Before I get into that though, how should I call you? Honestly, it’s kinda bothering me.”

Stahlia opened their eyes wide, before nodding, “I see you can take control, at least enough to speak. What did you do to Pet’s consciousness?” As they were questioning me, George’s eyes narrowed and briefly flashed, “…Is she asleep? Her mana dimmed, like it got put into the background or something.”

Right, the ability to see life or whatever she called it. I see you do care about Felicity, at least enough to see if she’s safe, “Right, I offered to let her watch one of my memories of an Anime Movie. She got really bored yesterday, and when you suggested she would have to do the same thing again, all I felt was frustration. George, she’s five.”

After a moment, Stahlia nodded, “I suppose you’re right, she is a bit young for conversations like that. To answer your question, you can call me ‘Stahlia’ and I guess consider me… a girl. I’ve had ten years to come to terms with that. Besides, I would not want you or Pet to make a mistake and accidentally call me George in front of someone.”

Her reasoning made sense, but I thought I could detect a hint of bitterness in their voice. Ah, ten years old would mean she’s just started puberty. That must be pretty disconcerting considering the past life memories. Like suddenly being slammed in the face with the reality of the situation.

“Right well, Stahlia it is then. To answer your question; I’ve only been dead for a few days relative to my own perception.” That got a bit of a reaction of surprise, but Stahlia prompted me to continue without saying anything further, so I continued on.

“Franklin brought me your PC and launched into a long conspiracy theory about how you had gotten murdered for some reason. I agreed to look into your files if only to give him closure. The only thing we found on your hard drive was the executable for NewLife. When Franklin logged into it using information he got from your email, the computer exploded or something. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in a sort of black empty space. Periodically I would be transported against a wall of sorts, and spend a day or two in her head. Recently-”

I had been about to mention EvilGod, but the words caught in my throat. It would seem that his “invoke authority” outright prevents me from saying anything, even to Stahlia. Figures. “Recently, the wall broke down completely, and I found myself fully aware and sharing this body with her. Oh, I’m pretty sure the Japanese stuff was my fault; I might have altered some of her formative memories before I knew I was dealing with an independent soul in its own right.”

Stahlia nodded, taking everything in. After a moment, she exhaled, “Well, sounds like Franklin is out there somewhere as well. There isn’t much I can do at the moment, not until I resolve things with Drakas, but I’ll try and look for him once that’s done. Since it sounds like my death really got to him, it’s the least I could do.”

Again, she sounds like she’s just making a promise because it’s what I expect her to say. Like she doesn’t actually feel sorry about him being dead… “Right, about that. You mentioned you were having boy troubles?”

It must have been humorous, seeing a five-year-old nekomimi wink while saying “boy troubles”. At the very least, if her glare was anything to go by, Stahlia found my joke hilarious.

“No. I’m not having ‘Boy Troubles’. I just know that my fiancée is a walking shit stain of a human being, and yet I seem to be falling for him anyway. I was hoping it was his brainwashing mana control thing I mentioned last night, but from what I saw the other day, that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

Right, about that. As soon as you mentioned how gross his mana looked, I had a feeling. “Right, about that. Did you know that mimi-kin, or atleast Nekomimi, can ‘smell’ mana?”

Stahlia raised an eyebrow and looked at me quizzically. “It’s true, Dominic smells like sulfur and fetid meat. It is, in no small word, nauseating. For what it’s worth, you smell almost minty.”

Stahlia blushed a little bit at my compliment, meaning that I had been successful in lightening the mood.

“In any case, she says she occasionally catches a bit of Dominic’s scent underneath your own. It’s not like it rubbed off on you from him holding your hand or something, more like it’s something coming out from you yourself. Are you sure there’s no way he’s not controlling or influencing you? Frankly, from the few memories, she has of him, Dominic seems to be a real piece of work.”

Stahlia sat back in thought. After a moment, she nodded slowly, “It might be possible. I don’t have enough information, but if I assume that I didn’t use to be immune, and then something changed that made me immune… well, suffice to say I can think of a few possibilities. I’ll have to make a plan before I can act on them though… and leveling up a few more times would be really helpful”

We sat in silence for a moment, before Stahlia spoke up again. “I understand that you might not feel very good about taking control of Pet’s body. But I had a thought. Do you remember the [Envious] Skill I told you she had last night?”

The skill that is probably going to kill her, and the reason you decided to order her not to leave? Yea I remember that one. “What about it? And didn’t you think of ordering her not to use the skill?”

Stahlia nodded, “Yea, I thought of that, but the way it seems to work is like, an automatic effect. I don’t have a way of experimenting with it on my own. If I ordered her to do something impossible, it might have hurt or even killed her. So, with that in mind, I settled for ordering her to stay on the estate, where she would be less likely to encounter new talents. But, she has you now.”

She has me now? What exactly do you mean by that? I voiced my confusion and Stahlia nodded. Raising her hand up, she spoke, “Pet already knows most of my talents. The only ones she doesn’t know are magic-related, or those that are completely internal and can’t be ‘observed’. [##### ####].”

A fist-sized ball of water formed in the air above Stahlia’s open palm, and promptly fired off into a small tub at the far end of the room. Jacqueline glanced over but went back to what she was doing after Stahlia waved her off, “Did you get any notifications, or pick up anything from Pet just now?”

Wait, did you just theorize that if I was in control, Felicity wouldn’t be able to activate [Envious]? And then go and test that!? What if you were wrong! I made sure to display my irritation as I answered her question, “No. I didn’t notice anything. Why the HELL would you go and do such a dangerous test!?” Ok, maybe that went beyond “displaying my irritation”…

Stahlia seemed nonplussed in the face of my anger. “I can’t bring in somebody from the outside and say “hey, use your talent in front of my slave.” Further, Pet already knows all of the basic talents Jacqueline and I have. In fact, the Magic Talent she would have gotten there would probably have the least impact out of any of the talents I could have experimented with; it’s the cheapest at least.”

“So, here’s my theory, as well as my reasoning. Talents and Skills are seemingly tied to the soul. In the case of Pet’s [Envious], it picks up on the observations fed to the soul by the senses. The thing is, in my experience so far, skills and talents seem very straightforward; they don’t account for possibilities that are ‘outside the box’.”

I think I can see where she’s going with this. Because Felicity and I are in such a unique circumstance, we might be able to get around the issues that come from [Envious], but getting ‘in the way’ of that sensory input feed.

“So, I was thinking, now that I know you can take control of the body if it’s possible for you to take control of only the senses, then maybe Pet would be able to regain some freedom. From her point of view, nothing should really change since your soul connection would still be feeding her the sensory information. Hell, at the far end, the two of you might become op as hell. Imagine if you fill your soul up with observation and sense-type abilities while Pet takes a bunch of combat-orientated ones.”

…Well, I can’t say I appreciate the assumption that Felicity is going to be in a situation where she needs combat skills… but the idea of her not being stuck in the manor anymore, well it’s appealing. Not sure how I feel about my part to play in this though. Sure, I would just be taking over the duty of processing sensory information. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions… what if next I decide I should control her hands so she can’t burn herself? Or her legs to make sure she won’t get lost…?

Frankly, a lot of my misgivings probably stemmed from my original faux pas, when I had screwed up her mind and turned her into a weeb. Still, it’s probably worth the risk. It would let her have a bit of freedom back.

At that moment, Jacqueline called out to get Stahlia’s attention, “My Lady, a summons has arrived. We are to report to Duke Percius’ office for a debriefing. His Highness Prince Rupert will also be there, so Percius should be contained, as it were.”

Off. Going to go see the prince, can’t say I’m envious of that. Maybe having some freedom back isn’t such a good idea. Stahlia left while wearing a grimace of suppressed irritation, and I whiled away the time until Felicity came back up from her induced dream. The thought occurs that what I just did to her, was basically the same thing that happened in an opium house… Fuck me, this sharing a body thing is proving troublesome for my moral compass… I would have to think of a better way of sharing my memories with Felicity. One that didn’t put her out like that.

Either way, Felicity was now awake, so I had to figure out how best to broach the topic of letting me act as an intermediary for her senses. First, I withdrew myself so that Felicity took control of our body again. This resulted in a brief moment of absolutely nothing where neither of us was controlling the body or processing sensory input. It was a bit freaky, and indeed, I felt a brief spark of terror from Felicity before she retook control for herself.

{Felicity, Stahlia Nee-San had an interesting idea.}

I felt our ears perk up at the mention of it being Stahlia’s idea, “Stahlia Nee-San had an idea? Tell Pet!”

I grimaced to myself and went on to explain the idea of letting me act as an intermediary for our senses while stressing that Felicity would otherwise retain control of the body at all times. By the time I was finishing the explanation, I could feel a vague sense of irritation from Felicity’s subconscious.

“So, if we do that, Pet won’t be stuck inside all the time right? I can go out with Stahlia Nee-San?” Of course, you would miss the major hurdles and focus on only the convenient parts. Your innocence is a treasure… I bit down on my feelings of revulsion and gave the affirmative. Felicity gave an enthusiastic agreement, and we spent the next several hours practicing.

As it turned out, it was a lot more complicated than “I’ll just process the sensory information while she controls the body.” By taking over the sense of sight, I also had control of the ocular muscles. This meant that Felicity could no longer move her eyes on her own. That might not sound too bad until you realize exactly how many times a day you look at something by just moving your eyes. A similar phenomenon occurred with our ears. While Felicity would maneuver her ears entirely based on instinct, I didn’t have that advantage and had to learn to properly control an entirely new set of muscles I didn’t have on my last body.

By the time Stahlia got back from her meeting though, we had managed to get a decently effective system in place; if Felicity wanted to get a closer look at something, she would tell me mentally so that I could move the eyes to look at it. It was my hope that, over time, I would be able to learn to predict what she wanted to see, and eventually make our arrangement seamless.

Stahlia observed the greatly slowed reactions of Felicity’s eyes and ears before nodding, “I assume what we talked about was a success. Good thing then, since It’s been decided to let my winter break start a bit early. Something about giving me time to ‘come to terms’. Pet, how would you like to visit my home village?”

The pure innocent joy I felt coming from Pet’s soul at that question, brought tears to our eyes, which sent Stahlia into a bit of a fluster. I guess this is another issue I’ll have to figure out a solution for…

The Felicity/Claire PoV stuff is finished for now, of course it should be obvious that the character is being made into a primary supporting cast, so we'll be flipping to their perspective from time to time.

Next sub-arc is going to go back to Ris village for a few chapters, to check in on her family, as well as provide some breathing room for her to come up with a plan, now that she knows Dominic has done something.